It was a common practice of the Chinese official historiographers to employ pseudo-historical, semi-fictional source materials alongside the factual, ascertainable data in their narratives for prescribed political or didactic purposes despite their commitment to the time-honored principles of truth and objectivity in the Confucian-oriented traditional historiography. The intrusion of these non-historical elements in the imperial historical records illustrates, therefore, the adaptability of the source materials representing the popular tradition of the masses for the uses of the great tradition, and the (...) propensity of the reciprocal exchanges between the expressions of the Confucian literati and the less cultured populace in historical compositions. Drawing on a textual analysis of the T'ai-tsu shih-lu, the reign chronicle of the Ming founder Chu Yüan-chang, who rose from a humble peasant to the imperial throne in 1368, this essay examines the historical circumstances and historiographical devices by which the factual records were commingled with the non-historical materials in the accounts of the dynasty founding. It shows how the historiographers synthesized the pseudo-historical expressions in the popular tradition with the deliberately fabricated falsehoods of their own doing to conjure up an inflated portrait of the Ming founder, transforming him from an illiterate, beggar mendicant monk and rebel leader into the topoi of a righteous hero, dynasty founder and exemplar ruler in traditional official historiography. It also shows that apart from the historiographers' penchant for conformity to the established conventions, the exaggerated portrait of the Ming founder in the T'ai-tsu shih-lu was a product of a historiographical revision undertaken on order of the third emperor Yung-lo, fourth son of T'ai-tsu, aiming at legitimizing his usurpation of the throne from his nephew the imperial successor Chien-wen in a palace rebellion of 1402. Lastly, it shows how the early Ming revision of the records of the rise of T'ai-tsu inspired a cycle of bizarre legends about the early years of the dynasty founding in later official and private writings, and how a case study of such historiographical process may add to our understanding of the continuous interactions between the expressions of the élite and mass heritages in the making of the Chinese intellectual and cultural traditions. (shrink)
The current “AI Summer” is marked by scientific breakthroughs and economic successes in the fields of research, development, and application of systems with artificial intelligence. But, aside from the great hopes and promises associated with artificial intelligence, there are a number of challenges, shortcomings and even limitations of the technology. For one, these challenges arise from methodological and epistemological misconceptions about the capabilities of artificial intelligence. Secondly, they result from restrictions of the social context in which the development of applications (...) of machine learning is embedded. And third, they are a consequence of current technical limitations in the development and use of artificial intelligence. The paper intends to provide an overview of current challenges which the research and development of applications in the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning have to face, whereas all three mentioned areas are to be further explored in this paper. (shrink)
In contrast to Di Nucci’s characterisation, my argument is not a technoapocalyptic one. The view I put forward is that systems like IBM’s Watson for Oncology create both risks and opportunities from the perspective of shared decision-making. In this response, I address the issues that Di Nucci raises and highlight the importance of bioethicists engaging critically with these developing technologies.